After scoring three wins last season in Indy Pro 2000 Presented by Cooper Tires competition, David Malukas is moving up to the final step on the Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires in 2019, competing in Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires with BN Racing.
As he got ready for this weekend’s season opener at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, the American shared his thoughts with POPULAR OPEN WHEEL.
POPULAR OPEN WHEEL: What are your thoughts going into St. Petersburg this weekend?
DAVID MALUKAS: I’m really excited. The off-season went by quickly and being with a team new to the Indy Lights Series, BN Racing, and we’ve done the testing at Homestead and COTA and it seems like we’re not going to be doing too bad. So really excited and looking forward to it.
POW: What is the biggest challenge of St. Petersburg?
DAVID: It’s just a street race, again. I’d say if you miss a corner, you’re not going to drop a wheel in the gravel; it’s a wall so obviously that’s the biggest challenge, especially being in Indy Lights now than Indy Pro 2000 as it’s bigger and quicker. So just watching the walls I’d say.
POW: Overall, though, what are your thoughts going into the season?
DAVID: I’m trying to go into it with a relaxed state than USF2000 and Indy Pro 2000. I knew we were quick, so I was trying to go for the win and the money. But here this year, I’m going to make sure to stay calm and relaxed going against the big teams like Andretti and Belardi who have been doing this for many years.
I just have to keep a cool mind and if we end up being slow one race, I have to make sure to put it away and not really think about it.
POW: What are your goals and expectations?
DAVID: Well before all the testing, we were just looking to be on pace. But after the test at Homestead, I ended up being really quick. So we’ve bumped up our expectations to try and get a few podiums within the year.
POW: What track beyond St. Pete are you most looking forward to?
DAVID: Definitely Road America, because in USF2000 and Indy Pro 2000, we were so quick there every time. I just have a good time, too, as it’s local with me being from Chicago.
POW: What track do you wish was on the Indy Lights schedule?
DAVID: I would have to say Barber because they took Barber out for COTA. Obviously COTA is a great track, but it would’ve been nice to keep Barber Motorsports Park in there, too.
POW: What would it mean to you to win the Indy Lights championship and get the scholarship to run IndyCar?
DAVID: That would mean the world. I’d go nuts being obviously 17 and getting a chance to be in IndyCar. That’d be insane. I don’t know what I’d do. I’d probably just start crying and stutter and not know what to do. That would be a big dream of mine.
Obviously, I’d had that dream since I started racing in go-karts at seven-years-old to be at the top league in IndyCar. Being in Indy Lights, I already feel like I’m here and I’ve made it. So if I was to win it, I don’t know what I’d do; I’d go nuts.
POW: We know IndyCar is the goal for you one day. But that said, is there a series or type of car that is on your bucket list to try outside of that?
DAVID: Obviously, I really enjoy the open-wheel cars, so anybody would obviously be dreaming to test at Formula 1 car. So that would also be on the list. Very basic, nothing special.
POW: Who would you consider your racing hero?
DAVID: My racing hero would be Michael Schumacher.
POW: To other young drivers getting their start in racing, what would be one piece of advice be for them based on your experience?
DAVID: One piece of advice is actually what I’m working on right now – keep calm even when you’ve had a bad week. For me, I’ve always issues where when I’m slow one week, it gets in my head that I am and it’s kind of game over and then I really just struggle with it.
Obviously, it’s good to have that little bit to push yourself more, but I hold onto it too much. So obviously drivers have their good weeks and bad weeks, so you just have to remember that and come back the next week a little stronger.
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